Tag Archives: oprah

Member Spotlight: Jana Harker

FullSizeRender-183Roots:
I’m originally from Houston (Sharpstown HS), went to school at UT, moved back to Houston, married and raised three kids in Bellaire and then moved back to Austin last Spring.

Family Life:
I’ve been married to Doug for almost 32 years! We met on my first day of work at at my first job as a banker in downtown Houston. He’s from Berkeley, CA, and hadn’t planned on staying long but then he met me. ūüėä Our daughter, Courtney (29), got married last May and works at a nonprofit that assists victims of human trafficking in San Diego. Our son, Travis (27), is a chef in Houston and runs the kitchen at Battleground Golf Club. Our youngest son, Sam (22), is graduating from UT this month and will start an internship in operations with the PGA Tour in Atlanta.

Work Life: 
My first career in banking was quite brief. After meeting and marrying my husband, we started having kids pretty soon, and I “retired” to stay home full time. When our youngest was in grade school, I decided to get my Masters in education which led to my second career as a high school teacher. I taught Health and Media Literacy at a small public high school in Houston for eight years. Since moving to Austin, I have been working on a volunteer basis for several local youth serving nonprofits in health education.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
I’ve learned that there is nothing better than the feeling you have after a good workout especially if it is outside on a gorgeous day! Also, the iGniters with their friendly faces and welcome smiles have given me a sense of community I truly appreciate being new to Austin. ‚ėļ

The best advice I’ve been given…
I’m paraphrasing but it’s “think about what you want to leave behind when you leave this world. What will you regret not doing?” This was my inspiration for returning to school. I don’t remember where I heard this, but it was in the late nineties, so probably Oprah.

Something people may not know about me…
I went to UH grad school when I was in my forties!

Three words that describe¬†me…
Playful, curious and thoughtful

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The #gratefulgram Challenge

Join us in our November #gratefulgram challenge!  Starting today and throughout the month of November, I invite you to join me in taking photos (each day if possible) of the things you are grateful for and posting them on Instagram, Facebook,Twitter or your social media outlet(s) of choice with the hastag #gratefulgram and tagging iGnite's social media profile. For participating, you will be entered into a prize drawing for iGnite to donate $50 in your name to the charity or non-profit you are most grateful for!

Join us in our November #gratefulgram challenge! Starting today and throughout the month of November, I invite you to join me in taking photos (each day if possible) of the things you are grateful for and posting them on Instagram, Facebook,Twitter or your social media outlet(s) of choice with the hashtag #gratefulgram and tagging iGnite’s social media profile. For participating, you will be entered into a prize drawing for iGnite to donate $50 in your name to the charity or non-profit you are most grateful for!

“Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us,¬†there’s always something we could be grateful for.”
-Barry Neil Kaufman

Point to Ponder:
Are there things around you can be more grateful for that you might normally take for granted?

Do you know that there are only seven and a half weeks — that’s seven Saturdays and fifty-two days — until Christmas? (and I included both Thanksgiving day and Christmas Eve). So, take those days away and realistically we only have fifty days until Christmas. How does that make you feel? If you’re like me, it doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies that it should. Instead, it makes me tense up and think about how I turn into a consumer zombie and spend way too much money on unnecessary things, which in turn gives me the creepy crawlies. But wait, all of this is avoidable, right? Absolutely! I’m going to do it different this year and it’s going to start now, by counting down the days to Thanksgiving — which is actually my favorite holiday (besides Daylight Savings Time when we gain an hour of sleep…technically not a holiday, but I LOVE it!).

What I love so much about Thanksgiving is that it’s simple. Granted, I’ve never had to prepare a Thanksgiving meal, so that’s easy for me to say, but Thanksgiving for my family revolves around the 3 F’s: family, food, and football. We don’t have to travel far, there’s no gift giving, and we just spend time with one another. And, more simple than the Thanksgiving holiday is how our life can make a 180 degree turn for the better when we take the time each day to recognize and show appreciation towards one thing that we are grateful for.

In an interesting article in Psychology Today called “The Grateful Brain“, Dr. Alex Korb sites four scientific studies proving that expressing and showing gratitude towards anything activates brain regions associated with the feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine. Fascinatingly, “once you start recognizing the things you are grateful for, your brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for.” And, even more extraordinary, “in a study from the National Institute of Health, researchers examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude (ZAHN etal, 2009). They found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. Dr. Korb states that this brain activity evidence makes it clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects from increased exercise, and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains.

There’s no denying that gratitude is a life-improving game changer, which is why I am proposing you join iGnite in our #gratefulgram challenge during the month of November. Starting today and throughout the month of November, I invite you to join me in taking photos (each day if possible) of the things you are grateful for and posting them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or your social media outlet/outlets of choice with the hastag #gratefulgram and also tagging iGnite’s social media profile. I encourage you to not over-think what you are grateful for. You having gratitude for your car starting in the morning is equally as great and wonderful as posting a photo of your family. According to Dr. Alex Korb, gratitude is gratitude and regardless of what you have gratitude for, it all counts. You can check out my Instagram account and Facebook profile¬†to get a visual of how simple it can be. And, for those of you who participate, you will be entered into a prize drawing for iGnite to donate $50 in your name to the charity or non-profit you are most grateful for (just be sure and tag iGnite and #gratefulgram to enter)!

Above is a picture I took while attending last Friday’s¬†sunrise Core & Stretch on the Texas Rowing Center’s dock, for which I was and continue to be grateful for. What I love about being able to capture our blessings is that they make us more aware of how abundantly blessed we really are and in turn improves our overall quality of life. And overt gratitude has the opportunity to improve the overall quality of someone else’s life! Gratitude changes everything and that’s the warm fuzzies I’m talking about!

Action Item:
Watch this week’s inspiring video (below), and throughout the month of November take one picture each day of something you are grateful for and post it on your social media outlet/outlets of choice.

I know, I know. It’s another Oprah video, but I promise it’s totally relevant. We need to just make Oprah an honorary member ūüôā She’s sooo iGnite!

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Trusting the Process

NatureDoesNotHurry_iGniteYourLife

“You will get there when you are meant to get there and not one moment sooner‚Ķ so relax, breathe, be patient and trust the process. Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
– Mandy Hale/Lao Tzu

Point to Ponder: 
Are you consumed with wanting all of your questions answered now?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Do you ever struggle with taking consistent action and trusting “the plan” in order to see your goals and dreams become reality? ¬†And if you don’t wrestle with this issue, would you please join my mentor club and share your wisdom with me?? ¬†Because I constantly struggle with it!

As I’ve referenced in the past two journals, during the first three years of iGnite I worked with a business coach, and during all of my ‘intention’ work and goal-setting, I inevitably found myself asking the same¬†overwhelming and reoccurring question: “How and when is this going to happen?”, to¬†which Michelle (my coach) would always respond, You have to trust the process and keep doing the work. You can’t predict it or plan how it will happen. It will happen how and when it’s supposed to happen.”¬†And it turns out, Michelle was always right and the answers always turned out much better than I could’ve planned or hoped for.

This “process trusting/surrendering practice” is much easier said than done because it requires patience…which is completely counter-intuitive to me. As the majority of us were taught, if we want something badly enough, we must work long and hard to make it happen….and trusting, practicing faith and waiting is not only very challenging, but it opposes the American dream philosophy and culture!¬† However, over¬†time I’ve learned that once we acquire the vision, set the intention, ask for what we want and add diligent hard work, all there is left to do is surrender, trust and have faith in the process. And, it’s in the waiting where the magical and mysterious *refinement process begins.

*Side note: Refinement = the process of removing impurities and unwanted elements from a substance; or, the improvement of something by making the small changes. 

This weekend, I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend Oprah’s Live Your Best Life conference in Houston, where pastor and author Rob Bell spoke. Though I had never heard of Rob before, everything he said resonated with me. In regard to practicing patience and trusting the process of life, he reminded us that we are the recipients of a gift, which is life, and while we should always shoot for the moon and strive to become our best by setting goals and pursuing our dreams, the life we want begins by embracing our existing life. By being in constant pursuit of results, we are unable to see and receive the miracles that surround us every second of the day.

Rather than judge our life based on accomplishments or goals attained, how about we strive to simply trust the process and embrace the mystery and miracles that each day brings? As poet Mark Nepo suggests in this week’s¬†video (below), our life isn’t enriched by achievement, accomplishment, or striving to become someone or something, rather the aliveness and refinement process beings when we jump feet-first into doing what we love, with no strings attached. Now that’s what I am talking about!

Action Item: 
Watch the video below, and rather than judge your life based on accomplishments or goals attained, strive to trust the process and embrace the mystery and miracles that each day brings.

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View Life As An Experiment

lifeisanexperiment

Point to Ponder:

Do you ever find yourself paralyzed by the fear of making the ‘wrong’ decisions?

 

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Sometimes life just plain¬†eats. my. lunch!¬† Things sometimes feel like more than I can emotionally, mentally and physically handle and at times take my breath away. I am unfortunately not referring to a “joyful, this is awesome” kind of take my breath away, but a “what the heck! I throw the towel in” kind of way. With that said, the timing of a conversation I had last week with iGnite member Kristy couldn’t have been more perfect, as her wisdom actually took my breath away — in a good way this time — and allowed me to exhale.

After class, Kristy and I were visiting and sharing our life experiences when she said the most encouraging statement that she heard from Liz Gilbert, one of her mentors. Kristy’s paraphrased words were:

“All of life is an experiment. Most all decisions are not permanent and once we begin living without fear and remembering that life is an experiment, we can finally live freely and live the life we want.”

Okay, so I think of myself as someone who loves a good challenge and is completely open to risks, but I, like you, take life very seriously and I really want to get it right! And with that “I’ve gotta get it right” mentality comes a paralysis that inhibits my personal, professional and spiritual development.

The crazy thing is, I know this! This is what I preach and try very hard to live by, but when life feels heavy with parenting, relationship, and professional responsibilities, this way of approaching life is much easier said than done. The truth is that I really want all of my ‘experiments’ to have the positive results and outcomes that I want. But, as life has taught me, there are no guarantees, and where there is risk there is always some level of reward, which typically never turns out to be what we planned. Interestingly, the outcome is almost always better and is essential to propel us to the next level.

Kristy later told me:

“Given that life is an experiment, this isn’t to say that we should live with no forethought and be guided by sheer impetuousness, but we can be paralyzed by the fear of getting life wrong and miss out on the opportunities that would make our hearts sing with satisfaction.”

On that important note, this week’s self-improvement invitation is to relax, breathe and avoid the pressure and desire to be perfect or get life exactly right. Welcome the unknown and resist the urge to have guaranteed results or outcomes. This will grow your faith and confidence. Shift your mindset to seeing life and your decisions as an experiment, which will stretch you. This will sharpen your saw and enable you to live a life without fear and full of the satisfaction of trying. You are worthy of being and living your best, just at Bishop T.D. Jake’s reveals in this week’s video:

Action Item:

Relax, breathe and avoid the pressure and desire to be perfect or get life exactly right.  Welcome the unknown and resist the urge to have guaranteed results or outcomes.

 

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